(return to Part One)
The pointlessly brief eighth chapter of five pages (half of which is pictures) begins with Wolter stating in a footnote that the History Channel attempted to assuage his disappointment over the cancelation of America Unearthed in 2015 by telling him the show was “too smart” for History Channel viewers. I’m not sure whether to assume this to be a disingenuous attempt at flattery or to believe that History thinks its viewers are idiots. Really, both possibilities are equally probable.
Cryptic Code of the Templars in America: Origins of the Hooked X™ Symbol
Scott F. Wolter | 310 + xxiv pages | North Star Press | 2019 | ISBN: 978-1-68201-101-0 | price varies
When Amazon told me that Scott F. Wolter’s new book would ship in 1 to 3 months and North Star Press, the publisher, couldn’t provide a shipping date, I wasn’t expecting to see it anytime soon. But then it showed up on my doorstep from the publisher this weekend. I can’t tell you how that made me feel. Really, I can’t. Not in print, anyway.
Last night, America Unearthed aired its final episode of its first Travel Channel season, and to promote the broadcast, host Scott Wolter published a conspiratorial blog post with Steve St. Clair, who had appeared in earlier seasons as an expert on the extended Sinclair / St. Clair family of France and Scotland. Wolter’s discussion is full of his usual non-sequiturs and wild speculation, beginning with the temporally unlikely notion that the Knights Templar, who were suppressed in 1307, were still on the run around 1400, when the youngest of the original knights would have been 111: “The final episode is arguably the best in a season of 10 really good shows for it reveals exciting new evidence about the fugitive Templar's (sic) activities in North America circa 1400,” Wolter wrote. Granted, Wolter believes that there was a clandestine continuation of the Knights Templar after 1307, but surely at some point even these fictitious secret agents were no longer “fugitives” from kings and popes a century dead.
An Australian white supremacist carried out the deadliest mass shooting in New Zealand history this week when he murdered 49 people in two mosques in Christchurch. Australian media identified the attacker as personal trainer Brenton Tarrant, who broadcast his rampage live on social media, and police confirmed that he left behind a 74-page manifesto in which he wrote about his hatred of immigrants and non-white peoples, using the language of Neo-Nazism and white supremacy. He spoke of “white genocide,” a common theme among the far right, and one we have seen invoked repeatedly in the racist embrace of the Solutrean Hypothesis among white nationalists.
Jesse James and the Lost Templar Treasure:
Secret Diaries, Coded Maps, and the Knights of the Golden Circle
Daniel J. Duke | July 9, 2019 | Destiny Books | ISBN: 9781620558201 | 150 pages | $16.99
Generally speaking, if a book opens by thanking God for his help and assistance, it’s not a very good book. Somehow, God’s literary output has declined markedly in quality since his first few bestsellers. Really, after the Qur’an, it was all downhill, even when he is just consulting, as he did with this book. Our inspired volume under consideration today, Jesse James and the Lost Templar Treasure, begins with the unpromising revelation that the author and his mother and sister were disheartened when the James Farm and Museum refused to endorse their family legend that their alleged ancestor, the outlaw Jesse James, faked his death and lived out his life in Blevins, Texas as James Lafayette Courtney—the man who is Daniel J. Duke’s actual ancestor. Our author describes becoming progressively more strident in his beliefs because of the “many rude encounters” he had with experts who declined to embrace his family’s oral tradition that Courtney was James, traditions detailed in his mother Betty Dorsett Duke’s book, Jesse James Lived and Died in Texas, which Duke expects readers to presume to be both true and correct, mostly because the scholarly elites say no.
Compared to years past, this was a rebuilding year for the fringe. Most of the major figures on the fringe sat the year out, preparing for bigger things in 2019 and beyond, and those that were active either failed to produce their promised results, delivered results that failed to meet expectations, or spent their time teasing revelations yet to come in 2019, or whenever they need a cash infusion. There was no major fringe history bestseller this year, and the wannabes in the category came from small presses and consequently received little or no media attention outside dedicated fringe sites. The new fringe pseudo-documentaries that made it to air either muddled through their middling runs or failed outright. The reason for the decline in the fringe was easy enough to see: The fringe had gone mainstream in 2017, and the continued presence of conspiracy theorists and fringe thinkers in the upper ranks of the Republican Party and the Trump Administration lessened the demand for pseudo-history. These sorts of claims tend to be more popular as counterprogramming.
While I am preparing my Year in Review post for tomorrow, I wanted to briefly note that on Scott Wolter's blog this week, Donald Ruh, the author of The Scrolls of Onteora, and an interested party in the story of the supposed Templar documents used on The Curse of Oak Island in 2016 and in the late Zena Halpern's book The Templar Mission to Oak Island and Beyond in 2017, confirmed that the hand-drawn French-language map depicting Oak Island and said to be a copy of one used by the Knights Templar in the Middle Ages is a fake. The map was part of a collection of documents compiled by a man named William Jackson before his death and 2000, and Ruh believes that Jackson was involved in some cloak and dagger secret intelligence work surrounding the documents, including a scandal in Italy involving crimes committed by Propaganda Due, or P2, a Masonic lodge that had been stripped of its charter and became a right-wing secret society with ties to members of the elite and a penchant for murder. "The Oak Island map is a fabrication, most likely created by Bill Jackson as part of an assignment by the agency Dr. Jackson worked for to intentionally set up a bad guy associated with the P2 scandal in the late 1970’s," Ruh wrote. I would need to see more proof to buy the claims about secret intelligence work (and i am not sure why Jackson's letter about it, reproduced in Ruh's blog post, looks to have been professionally or electronically typeset, despite allegedly being a personal letter from 1979), but I have no doubt that Ruh is correct that the map is a modern forgery. The most interesting part of Ruh's post, however, is not his dubious spy claims about the imaginary Spartan Agency, but rather the fact that he and Halpern fell out not over evidence or interpretation but over how best to exploit their claims in order to land the best TV deal. That is the true treasure of Oak Island.
I'm an author and editor who has published on a range of topics, including archaeology, science, and horror fiction. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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